DANVILLE, Va. – The City of Danville has started flipping the switch on customers unable to pay their light bills.
Danville Utilities began disconnecting electricity service on Monday after six months of COVID-19 relief.
Danville Finance Director Michael Adkins said 1,400 people, who owe a combined $1.5 million on their bills, could potentially lose power.
“Before we sent out warnings at the beginning of the month, we probably had close to 2,200 delinquent customers and $2.3 million in debt," said Adkins. "Shutting off power is not something we enjoy doing at all, but in fairness to the customers, it’s what has to be done.”
Power companies and co-ops are unable to shut off customers until Oct. 5, but the rule does not apply to city-owned power such as Danville Utilities.
Adkins said the city needed to resume disconnections for financial reasons. According to Adkins, Danville pays about $8 million a month to bring power to the city.
“We’re purchasing our power, bringing it to the city, and reselling it, so we have to make sure the cash flow is there," said Adkins.
The city has sent resources to people who need assistance paying their bills. The number to Pittsylvania County Community Action is on every shut-off notice; director Everlena Ross said the organization has the funds to help customers affected by COVID-19.
“Just in the last two weeks, we helped pay 60 light bills in Danville," said Ross. “People have been affected adversely. People are hurting. People need help.”
According to Adkins, about 800 people have been disconnected so far, and 40% of that group has either paid their debt or sought assistance. He believes Danville Utilities will finish disconnecting customers by next week.
“We can, at most, do maybe 150 to 200 disconnections a day," said Adkins. "It’s more important now than it usually is for households to not have an interruption in their service.”